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Magma Magma [Aka: Kobaļa] album cover
4.01 | 551 ratings | 40 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 - Le Voyage (43:07)
1. Kobaļa (10:15)
2. Aļna (6:15)
3. Malaria (4:20)
4. Sohļa (7:35)
5. Sckxyss (3:47)
6. Auraė (10:55)

Disc 2 - La Découverte de Kobaia (39:13)
1. Thaud Zaļa (7:00)
2. Naü Ektila (12:55)
3. Stöah (8:05)
4. Mūh (11:13)

Total Time 82:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Christian Vander / drums, vocals
- Klaus Blasquiz / vocals
- Claude Engel / guitar, flute, vocals
- Francis Moze / electric bass, contrabass
- Teddy Lasry / soprano saxophone, flute, woodwind
- Richard Raux / alto & tenor saxophones, flute
- Franēois Cahen / piano
- Alain Charlery "Paco" / trumpet, percussion

Releases information

Composers: Christian Vander (1-3, 6, 9, 10), Teddy Lasry (4), Franēois Cahen (5), Claude Engel (7), Laurent Thibault (8)
Engineers: Claude Martenot, Roger Roche
Producer: Laurent Thibault

Artwork: Marie-Josčphe Petit
Recorded: April 1970
Released: October 1970

2LP Philips - 6395.001/002 (1970, France)

2CD Seventh Records - REX IV-V (1988, France)

2CD Seventh Records ‎- 274 1700.01 (2009, France) Remastered (?) and re-entitled "Kobaļa"

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Prog Network & projeKct for the last updates
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MAGMA Magma [Aka: Kobaļa] ratings distribution

(551 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MAGMA Magma [Aka: Kobaļa] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This is the start of it all, coupled with the Univeria Zekt album, which is a strange early offshoot Magma project. Yes the genesis of the Kobaļan quest and Universe that will pre-occupy Vander's musical adventures, well beyond the obsession point. In all of the rock realm,, rarely has a group or project been so unique, inventive, original and influential. Indeed Vander's strange mix of Coltrane influences with Stravinsky and Carl Orff is so stupendous and flabbergasting that they almost involuntarily created the l music genre on their own, which is as far as I know the only case in all of music.

Among the astronauts that pioneered the Kobaļan galaxy's exploration are singer Klaus Blazquiz, bassist Francis Moze (later in GonG, and the pioneer in Zeuhl bass playing), keyboardist Faton Cahen, reedmen Lasry, Raux and Charlery and guitarist/flutist Claude Engel, and of course Vander himself. This double debut album was recorded in March 70 and was produced by the future French production legend Laurent Thibault. When the album was released in June of that year, it sported an awesome eagle-paw, creating havoc and destruction of the Kobaļan civilization and these red fangs became the fangs of the Magma emblem and logo that was already in use so early in the group's history.

Difficult to describe such original sonic madness, because comparing it to another artiste is obviously reductive for Magma music. The music is generally repetitive, but not minimalist, usually finding a groove and slowly altering itself to evolve in the generally lengthy hypnotic movements. Contrarily to most future albums of theirs, Kobaļa has some space for good and lengthy solos, although I wouldn't call that a major feature in this album, but it does help the album's different soundscape, along with the horn section (sometimes reminiscent of Chicago), but the music is still often more "jazz-rock" than the pure Zeuhl music of the albums to come.

The second disc has a slightly different sound, partly because of Laurent Thibault's composition of Nau Ektila and guitarist Engel's Thaud Zaia and also the following Vander-written track Stoah, which were all written months later than the main body of Kobaia's concept. You'll find a different Magma on the two Non-Vander tracks, especially on Thibault's tune, which has a wide spectrum, sometimes approaching dissonance. Stoah is also a very weird track,, with Blasquiz's crazy vocal passage early on in the track and the quiet moments on the flute later on.

If the original vinyls of this album (released on XXX label) are getting rare, you should now see the Seventh Records label CD versions popping up on the second-hand market, because most of the group's discography gas been recently remastered and re-issued on a subsidiary Les Chants Du Monde label of Seventh Records. The remastered copy on this double Kobaļa album comes in an impressive digipak with an extensive booklet filled with notes and clues to enter the Magma realm, which is of course appreciable, but not fundamental. I personally find the sound better on this remastered version, but the previous issue was already good. If you're afrais of not getting the Magma-ian code to understand their musical adventures, this is really the album you should be starting with, because it's not yet a full-blown Zeuhlian choral work as will the next few albums be. So it(s got many traces of the future musical madness, but it's still dealing with many of its fully secular twists to come. Having revisited this album recently, it might be one of my top 3 Vanderite records.

Review by Progbear
4 stars How many other bands can you name that had the gall to debut with a double album?

Magma's debut was, in many ways, their most daunting and challenging release. Curiously, there are moments of great beauty here, soft passages expressed on piano and flute. I think this serves to make the darker passages all the more harrowing. The darkness of the music is underscored by the vocals-Klaus Blasquiz' Wagnerian basso profundo and Christian Vander's inhuman screeching. I think that this all combines to make this seem like water torture to the neophyte Magma listener. Indeed, it took me a long time to come back to this release after my first listen.

This is one you have to spend a long time with to appreciate. It's also perhaps their jazziest release, with lots of stellar reed work from Teddy Lasry and Richard Raux. I don't think I'd recommend anyone starting with this album if you've never heard any Magma before, but it is an excellent release. It's just got a bit of a "time-release" appeal.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars A unique beginning.

This is NOT where I would start for those looking to discover Magma and the Zeuhl genre. Judging from a merely objective standpoint, it would be unfair to consider giving this anything less than a passing grade, given the amount of work that must have gone into everything just to begin the project.

As was noted earlier, the longer songs do not seem to suit Magma's style well. The free roaming jazz passages can only hold themselves for so long before seemingly becoming untwined. Aļna is a personal favorite of mine here, with an almost King Crimson like ending. As a whole, the first side is quite more entertaining than the second. The melodies there don't really hold me.

Normally an album like this would warrant two stars from me, but given it's historical context and the mere work that was done just in ideas and creativity alone give it three.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This debut record of MAGMA reminds me more of Frank Zappa than it does their own "MDK" album. "MDK" was the first MAGMA record I listen to and "Kobaia" doesn't even sound like it's the same band ! This one is much more Jazz influenced, hence the Zappa vibe as i've been listening a lot to "Waka / Jawaka" and "The Grand Wazoo" lately. Also the female vocal melodies aren't even on this double album, meanwhile they dominated "MDK". If I had to choose between the two i'd definitely take "Kobaia".

Disc one starts off with "Kobaia" and this is such a groovy song baby. This is MAGMA ? A jazzy little number that is my favourite on this first disc. The drums, vocals, flute and sax all shine brightly on this track. There are some dissonant horns as the song then calms down to a whisper with spoken words and no melody. The flute that follows is beautiful. Piano and drums come in as the song starts to rebuild with bass and horns joining in. Some crazy guitar and vocals are back before it ends. "Aina" opens with piano as sax and light drums follow. Vocals after a minute and the song speeds up 3 minutes in. There is lots of flute and horns in this one. "Malaria" features piano, vocals, drums and guitar, and he repeats the same line over and over until the flute comes in. There is such a great sound here, very catchy. "Sohia" opens with a bass and flute melody. The piano leads to a full sound with some good guitar to follow. Back to the original melody 6 1/2 minutes in. "Sckxyss" is a jazzy song with piano, horns, vocals and flute. I love the drumming the most though. "Aurae" is a different beast as it has lots of atmosphere with piano, percussion, vocals and flute all coming in and out. There are outbreaks of a full sound that come and go. Guitar before 7 minutes and a great uptempo passage to end the song, and the first disc.

Disc two starts off with "Thaud Zaia" and it opens with flute. This has a melancholic mood as vocal melodies, piano and light drums fill out the sound. The drums get heavier and the horns become almost dissonant with vocal melodies still contributing. The tempo and mood continues to shift and change. There is a lonely flute melody 6 1/2 minutes in. "Nau Ektila" is my favourite song on disc two, and it's the longest song on this recording. There is such a beautful pastoral passage early on, and the vocals are reserved. We get some percussion and sax as the sound builds.This is great !Some dissonance 4 minutes in, but then we're back to the warm flute, acoustic guitar and light drums. The vocals are back as are piano and percussion.The ending of marching style drums and flute is a highlight. "Stoah" is different because it's experimental and hard to get into.The vocals are weird and bizarre, the horns are disssonant before we get some nice piano melodies. More odd vocals before flute and piano 6 minutes in.The song speeds up with vocals late. "Muh" has some great scorching guitar melodies 3 1/2 minutes in as the vocals sing away. Lots of sounds join the party even sleigh bells and the sound of people speaking. Some ear piercing sounds to end it.

I feel I have to say that the fact MAGMA sings in a made up language has no impact at all in me enjoying their music. I mean I listen to so much music that is sung in languages I don't understand anyway, so I really could care less. I'm interested in the music and the music is transforming.

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My God in heaven... I have wanted to review this album for some time now. Having been inspired by Raffaella to get on with it.. so I will. We all have albums that touch us in that special way. That in a way become a part of us. This album is one of those. An album that touches my soul the way few albums do. Full of such incredible dynamics. Full of sound and fury one moment. .then unleashing the most beautiful of musical moments that your lips quiver and brings tears to the edge of your eyes. That my friends and colleagues.. is what music is supposed to do.

The album as many know is not considered pure 'Zeuhl'. That wouldn't come until the landmark M.D.K. album. However the elements that made Magma....well.. Magma are here. Vander's powerful yet subtle drumming. The crazy Kobaian language. The heavily bass driven sound that makes this group a natural attraction for the bassists among us. However the album itself is heavily jazz influenced where as later jazz would be but one of the elements thrown into the soup that made Zeuhl...Zeuhl. This album was a PA's special for me. I latched on to this album after hearing the sample here.. the title track which I believe is still available as a sample. Back then you could download them.. which I did.. put it on a CD-R..and played it till I knew every note of that song in my head. I had to get the album. I knew it wasn't considered the classic from the group.. or even representative of the group's later albums. Personally I didn't give a [&*!#]. I was hooked. The album itself.. took what grabbed me with the title track... and has now become one of my top 10 favorite prog albums and will I suspect forever hold that lofty distinction. To say I love this album.. simply doesn't do it justice. So I quit gushing and will talk a bit about the album.

The opening track.. the aforementioned title track Kobaia. Grabs you by the balls from the opening bass lines and just won't let go. What got me.. listen to those drum fills by Vander.. simply incredible. 10 shear minutes of musical bliss in the form of crazy wailing saxophones and a GORGEOUS piano interlude that is of such majesty ..of such dynamic contrast to the frenetic pace of the song.. it just knocks you sideways and backwards. Wow. wow.. and wow. In top 10 prog song of all time. I love it. Two others here grabbed me immediately on getting the album. Stoah.. oh lordy.. what to say about Stoah. For one who was raised on relatively .... normal music.. this track was a kick in the musical ass. Those vocals at the start.. hahhaha. whoa. Being the open-minded progger that I am... it soon became one of those songs you naturally put on when cruising around town with the top down and with the volume WAY up. You are certain to get a look or two.... or depending on what side of town you are.. maybe a bullet or two thrown in your direction. An incredible piece of music.. with the martial symphonic 'stoah' vocal section. If I was a good reviewer I might be able to do this song justice. I am not though.. it is enough for me to say. This one knocked me sideways and backwards again. This song is available via some You-tube clips to see them perform live. Check them out.. you might see what I am talking about. The closing track.. Müh. Oh my God. The shear BEAUTY of that opening. I will hit replay again and again just to hear it. After 4 or 5 times. I am then ready to move on into the meat of the song. LIke the rest of the album..and I kid you not. Full of great musical sections that vary between sound and fury and section of such beauty. Like the New Orleans sounding sax and piano section smack dap in the middle of Müh. Wow... simply incredible.

The rest of the album is simply without a track I skip. Not bad for a double album.. and rare as well. We have been blessed with some great debut prog albums. This was has to be near the top for shear qualit AND execution. There is only one that I would place above this. ELP's debut. For me personally.. obviously 5 stars. An essential album to me. and one I simply adore. For the site.. I am tempted to give it 5 stars but it is simply not groundbreaking enough and is reserved for latter Magma reviews if I get around to them. However.. I have in the forums.. and will here. STRONGLY recommend this album as the gateway into the world of Magma. Much like I say of The Yes Album for Yes ..and other albums for other groups. This is not the defining album for the group.. but an essential one for the group.. and if you don't like this album.. you most likely will not like the defining ones. And if you like this and go to the defining albums and don't like them.. .you still have this one. For the site ... 4 stars.

Michael (aka Micky)

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After reading numerous reviews of different Magma albums, I thought it was time to find out what the fuzz is about. I always start with the first album from a band and then work my way forward through the band“s discography and that“s how I came upon Magma“s debut album Magma (Kobaļa). I must say I am pleasantly surprised after listening to Magma (Kobaļa), as it is an excellent album. Not quite a masterpiece but very excellent. I must admit it has taken me a while though to get through Magma (Kobaļa) as it is a very long album. 2 discs and a running time of 82:20 minutes can scare even the most experienced prog listener just a bit, but I promise you it“s worth your effort if you like your prog rock to be unpredictable and challenging.

The music has many influences that ranges from Jazz, classical music, rock and avant garde. It“s very pleasant to listen to even though you have to concentrate most of the time if you don“t want to miss something. The sound is very soft though and it soothes my ears. I don“t know how else to express this but the music has a very cool drive that I enjoy but at the same time it“s very complex and demanding. It“s not often you come across music this demanding but at the same time so accessible. I think it“s one of the forces that Magma (Kobaļa) has. There are lots of sax and flute who are the main melody creating instruments, but there are also singing in what I suppose is the strange language created by drummer and founder of Magma Christian Vander. The singing is good for my listening pleasure as it creates the diversity you need to get through an album this long. All songs have a very high standard but there are a few standout tracks I will mention. Kobaļa which starts the album is a very strong and diverse song and it“s a great teaser to the rest of the album. Naü Ektila from the second disc needs to be mentioned too as there are some really great acoustic guitar playing that sets it apart from the other songs. It“s a bit of an oasis in the midst on complex and demanding songs. Naü Ektila is very complex too though, there are just some more calm parts to keep my stress level in ave.

The musicians are all outstanding but Christian Vander needs to be mentioned for his skillful and innovative drumming. That man is a genious on the drumkit no less. I understand that he is the main composer too and that“s just even more fantastic.

The sound quality isn“t the best, but you have to remenber that this was 1970, and for the time it“s pretty good. The most important thing is that it suits the music well and you can hear everything that“s happening in the soundscape.

This has been a great introduction to Magma for me and I“ll definitely be purchasing the rest of their discography shortly. I“m very impressed as you can probably understand if you have read the whole review. 4 stars is well deserved for this excellent Magma album.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm normally the kind of person who likes to research musical styles and bands from the beginning, so when I was about to start my adventure through Zeuhl with MAGMA'S self titled debut, a friend told me not to do this and go with their second or third release, something I thank, because if I hadn't started with "1001ŗ Centigrades", I'd probably had abandoned the quest on the "Celestial Music" to return to my beloved Symphonic, instead of acquiring the taste for Zeuhl.

With his I don't imply that "Kobaļa" is a bad album, by the contrary, but not what you could expect from a pompous and brilliant sub-genre, being that "Magma" is jazzier and with some "Latin Music" influences and I like more the Wagnerian self indulgent sound of their later albums like MDK much more. But too much chit chat, so lets get on the horse and start with the review.

"Kobaļa" begins with the self titled 10:15 minutes mini epic, with a Jazzy percussion and bass based intro that soon blends with a Latin sound somehow close to SANTANA, the peculiar use of keyboards and winds enhances this effect but still with a more Fusionesque feeling. Some sound effects made with the wind instruments reminds us we're before something much more experimental than expected, but still the band seems to be searching for a defined sound.

Only at he end and after an excellent Latin Jazz oriented piano break, the band changes path towards that mysterious and interesting sound that captivated me in MDK, good but not outstanding.

"Aina" starts again even more Jazzy than the previous track, and like it morphs into a Latin Jazz sound with a very characteristic percussion style, the problem is that the first instrumental break is too close to mainstream Jazz with a more elaborate structure, to be honest a very disappointing song.

A name like "Malaria" made me expect a more Central American sound, but as usual MAGMA surprised me with something really adventurous, the simple and repetitive piano collisions with the dissonant sound of the rest of the band and then morphing into something more fascinating and contradictory with a weird flute and cacophonic arrangements, this is more what I expected.

"Sohia" continues in the vein of the precedent song but this time more mysterious and dark, if we weren't talking about his weird French band, I would had swear the use of the flute is very close to an Andean style, but it's only a coincidence, but the real interest comes later, as the song advances, the structure is more contradictory and intriguing with incredibly radical changes and mystical atmospheres.

"Sckxyss" is the MAGMA I am learning to love, dramatic and arrogant with a magnificent vocal work and elaborate structures, cacophonic, dissonant but coherent simultaneously, sadly too short.

The mystical and terrifying "Auraė" closes Disk 1 with a haunting piano with dramatic and strong wind interruptions, but as usual MAGMA surprises with a beautiful and relaxing flute melody that keeps getting more and more complex as instruments are added. From the fifth minute the soft song changes into an operatic and pompous piece of music with those characteristic and unique vocals that only Christian Vander can provide, great way to finish the first disk.

"Thaud Zaia" and the soft mysterious flute open Disk 2, and in what form.....What started soft and melodic becomes so strange and dissonant that I can't imagine how this band was received back in 1970 when nobody expected something so revolutionary.

If by his point my schemes were not destroyed by this point, the acoustic intro of "Naü Ektila" proved that I could expect anything and yet be surprised, incredibly beautiful song with a Medieval flavor enhanced by the weird vocals in Kobaian.

But what comes later is what I call weird with capital "W", and absolutely radical change with sounds that collision one with the other and even a hard rock guitar blending with a jazzy section just to go crazy again, wonderful track, 12 minutes of pure Prog Rock.

It's amazing, when I believe I heard the most strange possible music, "Stöah" comes with it's peculiar vocal intro that sounds almost as a public speech in German, but what comes later is even stranger with the Avant sounding piano. Interesting is the word I choose for his song.

I surrender, the last track of the album called "Müh" has so many radical, contradictory and unexpected changes, that I won't even try to describe it.

By my words must be evident that I liked this album a lot, so my rating must seem contradictory, but I have rated "1001 Centigrades" and "MDK" with 4 stars and both are clearly superior IMO, so I have no other chance than to go with 3 until the half stars are accepted in Prog Archives.

Review by Gooner
3 stars Probably not the best place to start for those wanting to know about the Zeuhl sound. There's nothing really out of the ordinary here other than some bizarre vocals that mean absolutely nothing(Leon Thomas does it better). The lead off track _Kobaia_ is a groovy little number with some nice chanting. Later on in the same track, the piano parts are the substitute for the chanting. Very effective and quite nice. I prefer the live version on LIVE from 1975. Other than that, this is more or less an accessible version of the Keith Tippett Group(a big band jazz rock...but emphasis on jazz). More jazz than rock, this one. If you enjoy Elvin Jones, John Coltrane, Leon Thomas, Yusef Lateef, early-Weather Report(1st album), Ian Carr's Nucleus and some early-Blood, Sweat & Tears...this is one to check out. 3 star rating across the board as it may be too jazzy for prog.rockers and not rock enough for fusion fans.
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Magma's debut is decidedly different from what the Teutonic force they would become. This album now sounds as a rather standard jazz-rock affair with some weird vocals, but it is enjoyable for the musicianship and has enough to offer in terms of zeuhl-passion and song craft.

Due to the enthusiasm this album receives here I have given it another try. I admit it was a few years since I discarded this album as not being Magma enough and my taste must have evolved since then.

Anyway, one thing they made clear from the very beginning. Magma would be a force to be reckoned with that would not shy away from ambition and self-indulgence! Even Yes and ELP did not debut with an extended double album like this one.

Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars Pretentiousness and You

Magma, s/t, 1970

Much as writers in Rolling Stone and the dying breed of punk fans may accuse Jon Anderson's astral wailings and vague concepts, Gabriel's William-Burroughs-writes-nursery-rhymes lyrics and Peter Hammill's existential musings of being pretentious and irrelevant, they have, sadly enough, no idea of how pretentious human beings can be. For instance, they've probably never heard Magma; Magma's entire career (with the exception of the moderately hilarious Call From The Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby)), takes the astral biscuit of ethereal Vauncah and devours it whole. The band's theme is a vague (exception: this album?) space opera sung in some form of bastardised Anglo-Russo-German because real languages are not worthy of the vague, often to the point of indecipherable, story. Really, next time you feel like venting venom on the comparatively earthy and humble Emerson, Lake& Palmer, please take a moment to remember that you would be devaluing the whole idea of pretentiousness.

However, if you ever need to be reminded that pretentiousness can have positive side-effects, Magma will do that. I have not heard more confidence in music outside the realm of classical: Magma are willing to leave themes hanging, to drop out for a moment, to incorporate genuine classical ideas, to build tension without respite... they don't feel obliged to wait for the listener: the sheer confidence that comes through about what they can do with their music should impress if nothing else. This first release has that confidence, though it's entirely different to their later ones... aside from a much more jazz-oriented ensemble, the double-album format, the avant-garde nature usually appears to be drawn from classical or free-jazz inspiration (Christian Vander, drummer and mystic prince of the space-people, was, after all, classically trained) rather than the truly ground-breaking psychosis of, say, MDK.

In some ways, I think this album will be much more accessible than its followers, even if it gives less of an idea of what the whole outfit is about; in some ways, it is perhaps more enjoyable, and the calibre of the musicians gathered and the writing is . The opener Kobaia is probably the strongest statement of the album, with an opportunity for most of the ensemble to stretch out a bit, ambitious structure, an awesome free jazz-styled guitar solo, a neat bass riff and a soul-crushing piano and vocal break. If it's still on the archives at the time of reading as an MP3 sample, take a listen to it. Thereafter, the album tends to be a bit more standardised, although nonetheless excellent; while Aina is incredibly creative in terms of melodies and a very tight piece of classically-influenced (listen to Teddy Lasry's wonderful flute flourish) jazz work, it doesn't really quite hit any particular moods as powerfully. Malaria is fairly similar in terms of impact, and is similarly well-arranged as a mostly jazz piece with some sweeping electric guitar and an unusual vocal.

More of a departure is the first piece not penned by Vander, Teddy Lasry's Sohia (though I think for everything the band has as large a role in constructing stuff as the writer). This is a rather odder piece, where Francis Moze's bass-work underscores some haunting classical-ish flute harmonies, before the jazz band comes back. Vander's fills (the man is really a very talented drummer, here supported by a very talented bassist) here are perhaps the closest the album gets to the territory of rock, while Richard Raux's saxophone neatly expands themes in the harmonies. It sort of continues the strange internal logic of the album, and even the more solo-based bits. The incredible winding flute-and-piano spiralling around the guitar towards the end and the militaristic outro are certainly some of the most absorbing moments on the album.

Another non-Vander piece ('Sckxyss', for those of us with paranormal gifts for pronunciation...), this time by pianist Francois Cahen, who takes a solid riff under which the song grooves and pulses frantically in between schizophrenic breaks. Francis Moze's electric bass is very powerful indeed, the sax interplay is insane. Cahen's classically crisp piano parts tend to keep the album together and connected, and no exception is the segue between this and the final piece of disc one, Vander's Aurae.

Aurae seems to take the classical inspirations further than they have yet gone, with a flute melody underlined by Claude Engel's very bizarre electric guitar and some sort of perverse waltz switching into the blaring declarations of intent. We see the first glimpses of the more symphonic ambitions of MDK here with the various distorted or cleverly harmonized vocals, as well as the characteristic blocks of classical ambition. It also suggests some of the unique merits of this album: the variety is wider than anything MDK will really achieve, more melodic writing, cleaner guitar and a more or less unintrusive display of the unbridled originality that will give Magma their generally well-earned cult status.

Part two doesn't quite live up to the writing quality of the first side, I think, though it includes some very unusual content for Magma - yes, voyageurs, producer Laurent Thibault's Nau Ektila frequently verges on folk and includes a straight rock guitar solo, much as the whole piece has a berserk centre... the combination and diversity makes it one of the best here... by contrast, Stoah is a psychotic high-pitched chant (the vocals here are very... diverse) rolling into free jazz and some rather odd attempts at mock-national music mixed with heavy use of sound effects and a couple of pleasantly unexpected pastoral breaks. Without meaning to exhaust all the tracks here, I think it's fair to say that this side more or less sets the style for future Magma releases, albeit with more classical instrumentation and more distinct leads... all in all, I think side two is perhaps a touch weaker musically than side one, though I think it deserves credit for the drama and storytelling it includes (if you don't get it at first, I recommend taking a stab at the very simple French sleeve-notes with some sort of online dictionary), though it still contains a lot of very exceptional stuff.

While not really comparable to its followers, Magma's debut album is a very fine album indeed. The rhythm section is incredible, there is no questioning the ability of any of the performers and the writing just about always satisfying in one sense or another; and the concept is used in a ridiculous but basically entertaining way. Moreover, the writing is versatile and accomplished enough to make most of the tracks stand out... I'd note Thaud Zaia as a bit of a non-event, much as it has a neat mysterious flute. Four shiny buttons for a very, very accomplished debut with a bit more deflation and variety than its more intense successors. Worth having.

Favourite Track: Kobaia, or maybe Sohia Rating: Solid four stars, 13/15

Review by friso
4 stars Magma - Kobaia (1970)

Perhaps the most progressive album ever released (on it's time of release)!

For a vinyl collecter like me it's hard to get vinyl versions of Magma and when two reissues of Kabaia and 1001 Centigrats appeared I directly ordered them. Since I found Magma's '75 live album and Attahk I was convinced Magma was a major progressive force that would be a real contribution to my progressive collection.

Later in their discography Magma became known for their dark operatic vocals, dissonant sound, their concept and original structures. Leader of the group, classical trained Christian Vander, is a master of the drum-kit and a lot of the experimentation of the band is created from a rhythmical basis that is highly innovative. On the debut of Magma, which came to be because of Vander who wanted to fill the gap that was created when jazz-musician Coltrane died, a lot of the recognizable Magma-element are present. New for some people will be the jazzy sound of a lot of tracks on the album, which later was less apparent then on the debut. There are also no females choirs, but the striking vocals of Claude Engel and Vander do create that proto-gothic operatic climate.

It's hard to find a band that could be compared to the sound of the debut of Magma, but somehow Soft Machine's Third comes close. Both have a jazz-rock based sound with avant- garde influences, and both are double lps with different disciplines on the four different sides of the double lp.

The recording of this album is acceptable for 1970, but not perfect. Other albums by prog- bands like the Gentle Giant debut, Trespass of Genesis and some others sound slightly better.

It is almost unbelievable how progressive this piece of art is. First of all it's a full double album with 82 minutes of music, contrary to most debut albums that ran for 38 minutes (at the time). Magma is influenced by jazz-rock, minimalistic music, avant-garde, bombastic classical music, Orff music and concept albums. The instruments played are guitar, piano, drums, bass, vocals, saxophones and flutes, trumpets and percussions. On this release there are no electric key instruments, which is quite rare for a seventies prog album.

On side one we get to hear the title song Kobaia. An interesting jazz-rock track with a nice free-jazz instrumental part in the middle section. The dark shouting in this middle section make clear this is a very serious affair. The other two tracks are also very jazz-rock-like, but the avant-garde is introduced during the songs. Side one get's four stars.

Side two is my favorite part of the album. This side is the most progressive rock-like side of the album and has three more then excellent compositions. Sohļa starts with a great atmosphere created by flute and bass. The song is heavy and the instrumental passages change quickly and abrupt. Every note is inventive here and the climate is very intellectual. The emphases on the rhythmical dominance during the track (and the other two tracks on this side) is very strong and shows Vander as a genius who knows how to use his experiences as a classical trained percussionist to create atmospheric progressive music. Sckxyss is a short track that keeps the progressive climate running, whilst Auraė shows how much ideas one can use for just one song! Again rythmical and dissonant melodies that create a hard to digest, but very rewarding composition.

Side three is a bit more easy going. The side begins with mainly relaxing and beautiful Thaud Zaļa with some acoustic moments and nice flutes. Naü Ektila is an up-tempo jazz- rock track with some improvisational freedom. The drums are very expressive.

Side four is the avant-garde moment of the album. If you survived the test till now, you will now find that a this last phase of the album is very hard to digest. The atmospheres are quite abstract and the music is sometimes minimalistic, abruptly changing in bombastic and never constant for a long time. Some parts I really like, but since I've only listened to this album about five times, I don't understand all parts of the tracks presented. Fans of avant- garde should never miss this out however.

Conclusion. As said before, one of the most innovative and thus progressive albums of prog-history. The music is hard to get into, but very rewarding. Furthermore it's one of the most brave offerings of music of this period of time. Almost no catchy moments, no likable choruses, no open sound. Since the album is not yet perfect I will not give it the five star rating, but to understand the progressive genre in it's completeness you'll have to have this album! Therefore it is a must have for fans of eclectic prog, Zeuhl, jazz-rock and avant-garde. Four stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Magma (Kobaia)' - Magma (72/100)

Magma's fascinating, if overlong debut is generally not associated with the proper Zeuhl genre they're known for inventing, but it's funny how many descriptors are nonetheless common between the two. Classical composition is blended with jazz fusion of the weirdest order, in far too sporadic a manner to rightly compare it to the Third Stream composers who tackled similar marriages of style. Christian Vander formed the band to fill the void left by the passing of jazz genius John Coltrane; given the extreme expectations he had placed on himself and his work at such a young age, it is little wonder that Kobaia is so ambitious in its undertaking. That Kobaia often stumbles on its own weight can be excused in hindsight. Magma's reach had not yet matched their aims, but the ground they covered here sounds much fresher today than the output of most of their contemporaries.

It's nigh-impossible to consider Kobaia without comparing it to their full-bodied albums. While the lack of sophisticated vocal arrangements is enough to distinguish the album from Zeuhl proper, I get the sense that Magma didn't yet have the confidence necessary for effective minimalism. Even at their least inspired, Magma would have no trouble taking an idea beyond their expected limit. Repetition has long been one of Christian Vander's greatest allies, and while it is no doubt used by some lesser musicians as a way to needlessly extend, or 'pad' their material, Magma has usually operated with the confidence that their ideas are worth repeating.

With Kobaia, Magma harness their weird ideas in a more economical (read: conventional) way. The tracks will hop-- sometimes abruptly so-- between ideas, jumping from driving fusion to abstract free jazz or classical or ambient soundscapes as if Vander had an eye on the clock and his heart set on impressing his target audience as much as possible within the given time. There is a bit of irony between this and the fact that Kobaia is nearly an hour and a half in length-- that's something you don't often see in debuts even nowadays. Clearly Magma had a lot they wanted to say this first time around.

Fortunately, most of it is really good. I've said many times that the first few minutes of the title track "Kobaia" will be etched into my psyche 'til the day I die. The bass groove is as good as any I've heard in jazz or rock. While Christian Vander had already founded the invented Kobaian language and put it to favourably weird effect (see: the song titles) the vocals themselves are fairly weak. Stella Vander and the otherwise feminine side of Magma is nowhere in sight on Kobaia, and while Christian would become a legendary vocalist himself, the singers here are quiet and unsuspecting. The title track can also be used as a good example of the album's aforementioned issue with confidence in its own ideas. Halfway through, the song breaks down, giving up its momentum abruptly to develop upon entirely unrelated experimental ideas. The new approach isn't necessarily uninteresting, but it does nothing to further the progress they had already made.

While the album's first disc is relatively strong, the latter half makes me wonder if Magma really needed double the usual time to introduce themselves. The latter half is decidedly more experimental and hazy; it's pretty common to hear the band transforming their approach several times within one track. Although the band are usually interesting whether they're playing jazz or symphonic prog or some avant-classical manifestation, the music becomes less about great compositions than it is about strong individual ideas. Once again, this is in keeping with the idea that Magma had amazing creativity early on, but lacked the confidence and tact to put it to its fullest potential. While nothing else on the album dares to hit me as hard as the first song, the only full-fledged blunder on Kobaia is "Stoah", an annoying wreck of a piece that drifts aimlessly from one irritating prospect to another. Of course-- I'm sure there are fans out there who will disagree with that last opinion; it's arguably the first recorded instance where the sonorities of the Kobaian language are given front-centre attention, but it's always struck me as an obnoxious handling of ingredients they would later go on to perfect.

One way to appreciate what Magma with Kobaia is to compare it to the debuts of some of the other progressive rock legends. Yes and Genesis introduced themselves as relatively typical hard rock and pop exploits respectively. Pink Floyd and Gentle Giant both released arguably better debuts than Magma's, but even then, neither offered such a departure from familiarity as Kobaia. The only other progressive debut that made such a forward-thinking artistic declaration was King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, whose legendary status no doubt precedes it. In hindsight, Kobaia is rough and flawed, and it would not be long before Magma left it in the dust, but the surge of untempered creativity is a must-listen for fans of the band.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Magma's debut is a great work, especially for double album. Musically, they are somewhere on their way to what will be named zeuhl later.

Dark jazz-rock opera with some symphonic orchestration, bombastic drumming, Orffian atmosphere and tribal vibrations. Still far from their essential style of later albums, but I like this album. Possibly because they there are still not so cold, dark and bombastic, as in real zeuhl albums. Plenty of jazzy elements give much more life to their debut's music. More freedom in compositions and sound.

Listener can hear that they are searching of their own way. Album is raw enough, some places are too long, and the whole work doesn't sound as well composed piece of music (ok, it's not easy for 82+ minutes long work). Vander's drumming is recognizable (or let say - has his signature) here yet. Tribal drumming, flutes and some chamber pieces are just a one between many components, but very soon they will build a basis for Magma's music.

I believe this album is not a best illustration for what Magma's zeuhl is, but for many listeners it could be quite accessible introduction to Kobaian world (especially if you like jazz fusion).

My rating - 3,5 , rounded to 4.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars My first purchase of Magma was Kohntarkosz. I had heard speaking about them and the album was just released to the stores. I have to admit that I took a while to get into Magma. It wouldn't have happened if I had started from Kobaia.

The first two tracks are free-jazz with a touch of early 70s progressive. Enjoyable also by who is not in Zehul (Neither Magma were into Zehul at that time as this word has been invented by them).

Without leaving the cold jazz land, the following two tracks, already contain seeds of what will come later. A bit more experimental, with passages through various genres, but still accessible even if not easy.

Sckxyss is a jazz-rock fusion. This kind of piano playing can be heard today even on new age jazzy albums (not the singing, of course).

Aura starts with a classical intro of flute, but of course the other instruments and the vocals follow a different path. A link with classical music persists until the first half of the track, then it goes back to orchestral free-jazz.

Same story for Thaud Zaia. Another flute intro (a fantastic one) then piano and bass and again voice and sax. This is my favourite track. Somebody can think I'm mad, but I see a touch of Canterbury,too. At least there's aconnection between this jazz and the early works by Soft Machine.

Acoustic guitar and keyboards open "Nau Ektila". the proggiest track of the album which confirms, I think, the link with Canterbury sub-genre.

As counterpart, Stoah is probably the first track that can be defined Zehul, at least in the beginning, with strange voices crying uncomprehensible things. Not that the rest of the song is easier. It's grotesque and dramatic at the same time, with a remind to modern Russian composers like Stravinskij.

The closing track has a lot of different elements inside. I could define it as "eclectic" but it's not a challenging one.

This is the most accessible album by Magma. A perfect starting point for the Zeuhl sub- genre. Highly recommended.

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's finally that time...time for me to start slowly reviewing all of the studio albums by one of my all-time favorite bands. I've been putting this off for months, not sure where to start, or how exactly to do it without being too biased, etc. I decided to start, of all places, at the beginning. Not my first Magma album, that was MDK. I'll get to that one in a while. But now, it's time for us to visit Kobaļa.

This album must have been a real eye/ear/mind-opener back when it was released in 1970. It, along with Amon Düül II's Phallus Dei, is one of the hardest-hitting debuts I've had the good fortune of hearing. Jazzy, bizarre, and alien, this album will really be a trip the first several times you hear it. It also happens to be 83 minutes or so of music, which was a daring move with such an unusual style of music. The band lures you in with a groovy, jazzy tune, then proceeds to take everything off on tangents from there...veering into avant-garde territory fairly regularly, though only showing hints of their sound to come on MDK (1001 Degrees Centigrade is a quite unique entry in the band's discography as well). Stella and her fellow female vocalists are absent here, as is the absolutely all-encompassing thundering bass. In their place, though, we have wind instruments and the (slightly) more normal, yet still addictive basslines of Francis Moze. Vander is his usual behemoth behind the drumkit, and is already providing some of his bizarre vocal performances. Everyone involved puts in top-notch instrumental/vocal performances here, really.

This album, though an oddity of sorts in the band's discography, has grown to be one of my favorites over the last year or so. I think it deserves no less than 5-stars; a daring, adventurous debut like no other.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Magma's debut album sees them playing in what is essentially a jazz-rock fusion vein with vocals in their invented Kobaian language. The music here takes much more inspiration from free jazz than most fusion does - in fact, I can't thing of any other band that goes to such lengths to fuse rock and free jazz aside from Zappa and the Mothers on Weasels Ripped My Flesh, or perhaps Third-period Soft Machine. (Though on balance I think Magma sound a bit more like the former.) Vander would eventually lead the band in an altogether different direction, but this early double album shows that before they invented their very own genre of music Magma were an accomplished fusion unit, more than capable of holding their own in that field.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Welcome to Magma's world.

If you were wondering why a band would release their debut album as a double then all would be made clear after hearing this amazing music. From the outset Magma unleash their unabashed iconic weirdness onto an unsuspecting listener. It is beautiful, trippy, ethereal, chilling and at times disturbing. I have been well and truly initiated into the Magmaverse over the years so returning back to their debut is a therapeutic experience. One must expect a high quality musicianship with dollops of experimentation and wild leaps into fanciful Kobaian language; an alien language that does not exist. The debut does not disappoint in this regard though it has to be said this is a rawer Magma with less chanting and focus on conceptual themes.

There are fathoms of beauty with scintillating flute on such tracks as 'Sohaia', 'Thaud Zaia' or sections of 'Muh' that may almost be mistaken for Ian Anderson's style. The mesmirising beauty is encapsulated by lengthy gentle passages of woodwind and sax. These sections are cataclysmically broken with sharp jolts of guitar and the ever present percussion.

Vander is a man possessed drumming manically on such brilliant pieces as 'Muh', 'Kobaiah' and 'Aina'. There is a full blown jazz feel throughout the album and time changes that jar the senses. There is not as much choral singing or high soprano work as on subsequent albums but that makes a pleasant change.

There are the trademark Magmamoments of spine chilling terror such as on the ominous 'Stoah'. Vander's creepy screeching is unsettling and the ominous low drones on woodwind generate a sense of trepidation for the listener. The yelling section sounds like Hitler having a nervous beakdown. Then a massive low drone is heard followed by minimalist piano that gains in tempo and breaks into a 'Jaws' rhythm. Vander's opera singing ensues and then crunching piano follows the melody. The sax enters the soundscape, often going off on its own tangent like a renegade instrument.

The dissonant atonal "Sckxyss" is typical Magma that permeates all their albums, bizarre well sung vocals with theatrical dramatis personae coming from Vander, and very complex twisting musicianship.

On 'Naü Ektila' there is at first beauty and then the beast takes over. There is an outbreak cacophony of sound with all musicians blazing and colliding against any semblance of melody. It reminded me of Van der Graaf Generator when the saxes began roaring. A stunning track that exemplifies everything great about prog rock.

The final track of the album is the insanity called "Müh" and it chops and changes from ambience to out of control jazz. It slices around a strange metrical figure and then changes its mind to come blindly running into a wall of sax and a gun blast of guitar clashes.

So ends an incredible debut and it effectively set the scene for the Magmasterpiece albums to follow, and the legion of fans that would become enraptured with their unique brand of music.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've had a lot of trouble over the past ten years trying to comprehend everyone's love and appreciation for this album. I agree: It's impressive--even amazing--for a debut--and even moreso due to its massive length; a double album for your first release?! The jazziness of this album is only equalled by its theatricity. Reminds me of APHRODITE'S CHILD's "666." I wonder if AC had heard this album as they were creating 666 or if they had seen Magma in concert. I was most interested in exploring this album despite my affection for and allegiance to 1972's MDK because of the presence of compositions credited to woodwind player Ted Lasry, keyboard player Franēois Cahen, and producer Laurent Thibault--all of who would go on to contribute significant compositions and collaborations on their own to the Zeuhl and jazz fusion/avant garde/RIO sub-genres. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that each of these compositions presents a feel and style that is not Vanderish--that is, not steeped in the styles and philosophies of Carl Orff and John Coltrane. Perhaps the band was not yet entirely "his" as this was the last time Christian Vander would let this happen. Yes, impressive debut, full of youthful power and creativity, but, in the end, it's a bit of a hodge-podge of so much--too much. The band needed to reign in its style--which it would do in the next two recordings.
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars After King Crimson opened the floodgates and allowed the big bang of progressive rock to explode its pyroclastic flows into the world it was a signal to the Kobaians that the Earth they had fled so long ago was ready to hear the strange music they had evolved on their adopted planet. This MAGMA flow was originally an eponymous release but immediately was tagged with the name of the first track which is indeed a planet out there in a galaxy far, far away. And subsequent releases have carried the title KOBAIA ever since. The year was 1970 and the world was treated a Close Encounter of the Musical Kind as the Kobaians released their strange otherworldly music to an unsuspecting human race. This debut album tells the tale of their decision to leave a world so plagued by hatred and violence and the journey involved in getting to their new chosen planet and the colonizing and evolving in a different direction. The dramatics are in the music for all lyrics are in their own invented Kobaian language.

This double album has the honor of being both accessible and truly bizarre at the same time. Using jazz-fusion as a template, MAGMA, led by the overtly ambitious drum machine Christian Vander leaves no jazz and rock stone left unturned. Whether it is a more traditional fusion typical of the late 60s that introduces the album on the first title track or a slow and pastoral type that is filled with pleasant flute melodies, one thing you can count on is the urge to morph the music into something completely unrelated in nature. For example on the title track we get pleasant jazz-fusion followed by a frenetic sax solo followed by another phrasing of jazz-fusion followed by a very strange guitar solo. The second track "Aina" starts off slow and somber but speeds up to a more brass rock type of sound followed by a flute solo which finally gets accompanied by heavy rockin' guitars. In addition we get countless other things going on like the flute giving way to a military march in "Sohia" to the piano, bass and jazzy drumming with dissonant piano and a capella Kobaian lyrics on "Sckxyss."

Although this debut album is considered to be strictly jazz-fusion in nature, the fact is that the Kobaian creation known as zeuhl actually makes its debut here as well. How very clever of them to ratchet the music up from one track to another showing us how to change familiar 60s style jazz-fusion into their trademark zeuhl laid out on a musical journey. It finds its first Earthly contact on track number six "Aurae" where the familiar by today's standard zeuhl rhythms come bubbling through in the form of the flute and drum interactions. Soon the whole band is playing in the newly born style as well. After the zeuhl rhythms have sunk in they pretty much continue on the second half of the double album finding a more frenetic pacing on "Thaud Zaia" which continues the unexpected time signatures interlaced with pleasant pastoral lulls and interesting musical developments.

As the album reaches its final destinations we are treated to the most terrifying of screams at the beginning of "Stoah" which usher in dissonant guitar chords and a zeuhl piano run. Whether it's the bluesy rock influence in the album's closer "Muh" which also ends with jingling bells and avant-garde Kobaian chanting or the Earthly ethnic influences ranging from African drumming to Gypsy swing, one thing is clear, the Kobaians have what it takes to weave their musical vision into a cohesive whole that flows effortlessly from beginning to end despite the staggering array of influences on board. The most successful of these hurdles comes in the complete fusion of the classical, jazz and rock worlds with smatterings of a gazillion other sounds making their appearances here and there. I can understand why some may regard this double album as one that is too long because there are parts that wander on for times that may be deemed a little too long but on my part I find the first two MAGMA albums to be the most exciting of the lot. All the sounds that came after make their debut here and later albums are basically stripped down approaches of the ambitiousness that is found on the very first album. This is a treasure trove of infinite musical variations all stuffed into one single release. I am extremely impressed by this musical extravaganza and find this one of my favorite ambitious musical projects ever. Can you tell I like this? A lot!

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars I'm not entirely sure why Magma's debut LP is sometimes called a Jazz Rock album. It's true the horn section gives the music a looser, jazzier vibe, but make no mistake: this is unadulterated Zeuhl from the first note to the final coda...repetitive, structured, and totally unnerving.

The music lacks the macabre Teutonic intensity of later Magma classics. But even with the outspoken Coltrane influence it's a poor fit in the Fusion cubbyhole, and weird enough to need an imaginary word in a fabricated language to describe it. The album might pass for traditional Jazz on planet Kobaļa, but here on Earth this is alien stuff, even more so when suddenly grounded by pastoral flutes and the unexpected acoustic guitar at the top of Disc Two.

Never mind the tongued-tied, extraterrestrial song titles (and how are we supposed to pronounce a word like "Sckxyss", anyway?). What's actually being fused here is an operatic blend of classical references, jazzy accents, and an Avant-Rock eccentricity any fan of early Zappa or The Residents should immediately recognize.

Pick a track at random, and prepare to be (happily) confounded. The neo-classical beauty of "Naü Ektila", interrupted at intervals along its 13-minute length by thrilling passages of syncopated piano-and-sax mayhem. The shrieking introduction to "Stöah", sung (not the right word) like an inmate in Bedlam shredding his fingernails on the infirmary chalkboard. And after 82-uneasy minutes the album ends (in "Mūh", a song title sounding like a heavy object hitting the back of your head) with cliff-hanger abruptness, chanted as always in that coarse but compelling and otherworldly tongue.

In a single word: bizarre...and promising further madness to come. This was an album not only ahead of its time in1970, but totally outside of it.

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars "I've had dreams. Dreams about John Coltrane. In them I'm trying to get somewhere, but it's far, far away. I'm searching. I keep trying to get to the concert, the Coltrane Concert. But by the time I arrive, it's over." -Christian Vander, describing his recurring dreams about John Coltrane, 2015 [The Wire Issue 381]

Christian Vander was born in 1948 near Paris. From a very early age, he knew he was different from his peers. As he confesses in one of the interviews, he never wore stylish clothes, nor listened to popular music in his teenage years. His bohemian mother introduced him to classical music and jazz. Young Vander even had the privilege of meeting Chet Baker and future Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones. However, no other musician had a bigger impact on him than Coltrane. With his obsession growing, the young man started regarding the musician almost as a god, a prophet or his father, more so, because Vander never met his biological parent. When the jazzman passed away in 1967, out of depression, Vander went on tour to Italy. "I arrived in Milan and I did everything I could to destroy myself. Took stuff, drank... And I was like that for nearly two years. But one morning in Turin I woke up and saw the town completely illuminated, like I'd never seen before. And I said to myself: John Coltrane didn't allow himself to die like this." He left, returned to Paris, and became more involved with musical groups, playing around local casinos. Together with Laurent Thibault, the future Magma producer, they invented the whole mythology of Kobaļa and composed the opening track of Magma's first, eponymous (however, also often called Kobaļa), double-LP album, which was released under the Phillips label 1970.

Magma tells a story of the Earth's enlightened, intellectual elite deciding to escape their planet in search of a new world to create a better civilization, far from their home, destroyed by wars and politics. They finally settle on the planet Kobaļa.

The album opens with a Cuban-esque groove accompanied by throbbing bass, tight rhythm guitar, passionate drumming, and a jazzy horn section. When Klaus Basquiz's vocals take the lead, presenting a story in an unidentified, Gothic-sounding language, some listeners might picture a more elaborate version of Blood, Sweat and Tears or Chicago. However, at one point, after a short, baffling interlude, owing a great deal to European classical music traditions as well as spiritual, almost voodoo culture-like choir singing, the track drops into a rapid, heavy free-jazz section recalling musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and even Peter Brötzmann. Then comes a contrasted, quieter, piano part, leading into a jazzy climax of this extremely powerful and effective opener - "Kobaļa.""Aļna" follows with a pleasant, laidback avant-jazz theme, including a double saxophone duel. The vocals posses a similar spiritual quality, rooted in New Orleans' soul music traditions, whose origins can be traced back to Africa. Suddenly, the track changes its path, expediting its pace and becoming far more sophisticated. "Malaria" continues the overall atmosphere with a somewhat unsettling intro, which dissolves into a more, catchy, Latin avant-rock motif, utilizing a dry overdriven guitar and, more prominently, a flute. Side two of the first LP is opened with a mysterious melody on interplaying flutes. The same melody is picked up by Claude Engel's guitar together with drums, piano, and a horn section accompanying. After numerous harmonic and dynamic variations on the theme, comes a quiet, Kind Of Blue-like cool-jazz part, hesitantly leading to the reprise of the introduction with a marching rhythm applied. This suddenly resolves into "Sckxyss", which takes no time to warm-up. The magic fusion of sexy jazz rhythms, Stravinsky-like neo-classical music, rocky guitar, and Magma's own avant-garde elements is a truly intoxicating one! "Auraė" follows a pattern similar to the previous tracks, stating a very different statement using a similar vocabulary. Here, Francois Cahen's flawless piano work in conjunction with one of the flutes plays a crucial role in the dark, ominous feel. The atmosphere, still unsettled, grows in power with other instruments starting to creep in. The tension is dissolved on a rather cheerful line, similar to Easter European music in its broken, uneven rhythms. Then, the song moves into jazzier scenery, without losing its quirky integrity. Once again, following the footsteps and describing the nature of each passage of this piece would create a biblical-length epic. The piece is closed in an aggressive, yet controlled manner.

Disc two starts as if presenting a new volume of the story, with a solo flute melody, picturing a lonely shepherd in the mountains sitting on a rock and entertaining himself with the instrument. Taking Magma's dynamic, expressive style into consideration, the calm atmosphere continues for a surprisingly long time, even when other instruments and vocals join in. "Thaud Zaļa" finally becomes very Magma-like with a slow, disciplined marching rhythm, which after many repetitions, and a few beat variations, leads to the lone flute passage. "Naü Ektila" opens with something very untypical of Magma - a folk acoustic guitar passage accompanied by a clarinet. The addition of vocals and bass don't make things more punchy, rather the opposite. Another acoustic, feminine part comes in. The remaining composition is built from there, featuring a great, dry rock guitar riff, powering the Santana-like Latin jazz-rock machine. The appearance of a percussion solo leads to loud free-form mayhem. As if from the ashes, comes a very Coltrane-like part with Franēois Cahen's amazing piano solo. With reappearances of the acoustic motif, the piece ends in a very classy, stylish way. "Stöah" starts with a high-pitched, screaming monolog in Kobaļan. The repetitive piano sequence, bringing a neo-classical chamber style of Hindemith and Stravinsky to mind, is presented with Klaus Basquiz's vocals. Later on in the piece, we get a bit of a teaser of the style Magma would employ on Mekanļk Destruktļẁ Kommandöh - jazzy piano passages with choir work very much reminiscent of Carl Orff. "Mūh" opens with a dreamy, celestial piano passage and for the first few minutes follows a similar aura, until the very cheerful Cuban jazz-like melody comes in, broken by a short neo-classical interlude and a lengthy, varied instrumental workout. As I've said a few times already, describing the exact direction of the music on some of the tracks would create a pointlessly long and boring review. The whole album closes with an odd recital in Kobaļan.

Magma's debut is characterized, above all, by incredible eclecticism, variation, and diversity, sophisticated compositions, magnificent musicianship, and capability of making all the influences, ranging from Stravinsky's dark, neo-classical works to free-jazz a la Sun Ra to Easter European folk to New Orleans soul music, work together and create a unique, one of a kind fruit. Furthermore, Magma or Kobaļa gave birth to a whole new sub-genre of progressive music known as "zeuhl." Atmospheric, vigorous, creative, unorthodox, innovative - these are just a few of many adjectives perfectly describing this music. Essential listening!

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3 stars Magma released their self-titled debut album (retitled to Kobaļa upon its reissue in the 1980s) in late 1970, and it was quite a statement. It's a massive, sprawling double album that clocks in at over 80 minutes. It's a bit more conventional and easily digestible than the stuff Magma would eventual ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904545) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Okay, I'm moving on to Magma's self titled debut album (also known as Kobia). This album is the start of a string of concept albums conceptualized by drummer and band leader Christian Vander. The storyline of these albums is about people who flee from the planet earth to a planet called Kobia ... (read more)

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3 stars Magma's first album isn't "pure" Zeuhl. It is a Zeuhl prequel, a tribute to John Coltrane, but all the signs of something special and interesting are there. Although the story of the album was added retrospectively, years later, it goes something like this: Disc 1 - In the age of space colonisati ... (read more)

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Report this review (#1109214) | Posted by VOTOMS | Monday, January 6, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 Stars My first review in PA, and with this amazing album. I love Magma; They are one of my favourite bands, along with Opeth, Ihsahn, Comus and others. This album is just amazing. The music behind that image is very dark and beautiful. From "Kobaia" to "Muh", all is perfect. Here begins th ... (read more)

Report this review (#800895) | Posted by mau | Sunday, August 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Magma ' 1970 (4/5) 12 ' Best Song: You're kidding, right? Have you ever pondered late upon a midnight dreary, oh what it might be like if Elton John, King Crimson, Keith Emerson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and LSD went together to make a double-album alien rock opera in a fake language in 1970? No ... (read more)

Report this review (#443192) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A classic-trained musician And Creative inspiration... ...more like A classic-trained phrenetic And Creative insanity. Or Genius. A person who will find such a unique way to combine jazz and classical music with original ideas for creating a qualitatively new type of musical conception in near f ... (read more)

Report this review (#278292) | Posted by Psychedelist | Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars How can I best describe this album ? I am actually lost for words. Not since Soft Machine's Third have I been so lost for words as I am now. I am also new to both Magma and Zeuhl, with only a Magma single and Dun as my only Zeuhl experiences. I am therefore a newbie in this. Please be patien ... (read more)

Report this review (#260432) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Some people put this album under the group's other work, for me is not only one of the best in the group but also of progressive rock. Listening to this album, remember the "Red" and the "Lizard", and other works of King Crimsom, but I have a feeling more pleasant, as the work of metal and ele ... (read more)

Report this review (#221746) | Posted by nandprogger | Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Magma's début album, an ambitious double LP, is absolutely stuffed to brimming point with ideas and potential - to the extent that you get a strong impression of all the band members jockeying for position in the 'compositional steeplechase'! Christian Vander wrote most of the pieces on the reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#165960) | Posted by song_of_copper | Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My favorite Magma album. Everything's perfect here, from Kobaļa to Muh, including the really short Sckxysss. My favorite track here is probably Sohia, or Malaria, or maybe it's Nau Ektila. Anyway, with this first release, Christian Vander's band of zeuhl was at their best. I love the sleeve too ... (read more)

Report this review (#162840) | Posted by Zardoz | Thursday, February 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars And thus it begins... Christian Vander, a young classically-trained and intelligent-thinking session drummer of France, who had worked on a number of R&B and jazz recordings, decided it time to form his own band. Immensely inspired by jazz-saxophonist legend John Coltrane, he formed an elite gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#147809) | Posted by Shakespeare | Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Earth, this concerns you. Your systems crush and your revolts assassinate: in fact, you destroy only what you do not understand. We know that you will be also destroyed. That all those which choke here, follow us. But how the hypocrite does not hope for anything! Earth! you are already nothing ... (read more)

Report this review (#137430) | Posted by H.NOT | Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars this album has an armony from where you start to hear it until the end....the fusion of sounds an instruments are very well finished giving to you all the atmosphere of the song from where you sounds a lot like the winter maybe and it has a dark vibration...who knows what they tell in ... (read more)

Report this review (#114475) | Posted by RadioGnomo | Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Is there life on Kobaļa? The saga of some troubled earthlings travel to, and stay on planet Kobaļa is a dramatic and mysterious one. I'm more intrigued by this tale in a made up language, on a made up planet than any other science fiction, or far out concept I've ever heard, read or seen. ... (read more)

Report this review (#102683) | Posted by Rocktopus | Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Like many reviewers have noted before me, there aren't many bands that have the guts to start their career with a double album. Allow me to take this fact one step further - not only did Magma debut with a double album, but they also invented a whole language and a damn interesting science-fic ... (read more)

Report this review (#95303) | Posted by olzen | Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first work released in 1970 "Magma". Strange vocal is jazz-rock of the feature. In a thorough, avant-garde music, it is extremely original. The contemporary music seems to influence it. This is already a jazz-rock opera. There is strong strangeness when listening for the first time. Pharao ... (read more)

Report this review (#79717) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, May 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Introduced to the band through the review section of ProgArchives, I started listening to Magma's music. I was a bit reluctant at first, seing many reviewers warning of difficult to get into. But actually it was an immediate likeble band for me. With strong rhytmic music, and hypnotising repe ... (read more)

Report this review (#22296) | Posted by tuxon | Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I really don't understand why people criticize musical material without having in mind the meaning of artistry. I consider this debut album by Magma a highly conceptual album which introduces us into the world or universe of Magma. It doesn't matter if Colatrane is felt along the album as a ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#22295) | Posted by | Thursday, December 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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